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Qbq! the Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  5,509 Ratings  ·  421 Reviews
The lack of personal accountability is a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, victim thinking, complaining, and procrastination. No organization--or individual--can successfully compete in the marketplace, achieve goals and objectives, provide outstanding service, engage in exceptional teamwork, or develop people without personal accountability.
John G. Mille
ebook, 128 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Putnam Adult (first published 2001)
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Nate I can admit to victim thinking and making excuses about how I never had anyone to invest into my productivity as a kid. QBQ challenges me to think,…moreI can admit to victim thinking and making excuses about how I never had anyone to invest into my productivity as a kid. QBQ challenges me to think, "How can I grow, thrive, and compete against people who have more support than I do?"(less)
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Daniel Silvert
Jul 18, 2011 Daniel Silvert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There’s big wisdom in this little book. John Miller tackles a big subject, personal accountability, with a surprisingly simple premise: The questions we ask ourselves, “why is this happening again?” “Who is responsible,” and “When will this improve?” determines our emotional response to the difficult situations that life presents. Ask the wrong questions and we move backwards into blaming others, protecting ourselves, and rationalizing failure. Ask ourselves QBQ questions and we’re much more lik ...more
Chris Rock
Mar 31, 2014 Chris Rock rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
It's unfortunate that the system won't let me give this less than one star.

Like many business books, this book can be summarized on a postcard: Take more personal responsibility for the problems you encounter. Don't ask questions that blame other people, or express frustration (e.g., "Why is this happening to me?") Instead, ask the "Question Behind the Question (QBQ) (e.g., "How can I improve this?").

The message itself has some value, but the book over-promises on its usefulness and under-delive
Jan 14, 2014 Sara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was required reading at a large retail department store chain, where I worked,when it was taken over be new management. "QBQ" became our new mantra and managers were constantly hounding us to answer the "Question Behind the Question." It's certainly light reading and not much of a challenge intellectually; it does make suggestions that encourage excellent customer service - there is nothing wrong with that, but...the overall premise, that there are no limits to providing such service, ...more
another jewelry lady suggested this book to a few of us for our business, so i picked it up and finally decided to read it. it took me less than an hour- a fast, easy read.

i have to admit that i was turned off by the second page. "on a cross coountry flight the flight attendant got on the intercom and said, 'Sorry everyone but the movie we promised you will not be shown today. Catering put the wrong one on board.'" He then goes on to use this as an example of people not taking responsibility an
Katie Leas
Jan 30, 2010 Katie Leas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My company used to have a book club in which the entire staff participated. Prior to my becoming a full time employee with the company and being included in this activity, they read "QBQ!" The book continues to be referenced by executive management and our Account Service Department is reading the book together. Well, I couldn't be left out, so I had to buy it and read it for myself.

I learned a few of the principles in this book though my own failings earlier in life (okay, within the last 12 y
Apr 13, 2009 Sonja rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was loaned to me by a co-worker (whose boyfriend apparently lives by the "QBQ"). Very short, very quick read. A little too simplistic. Not anything I haven't heard before. Basically espouses personal accountability. Don't blame other people. Instead of asking negative questions, ask questions that start with either "What" or "How," include "I," and include some kind of action. Not bad advice, although it talks about not blaming others or complaining, but doesn't address the issues of n ...more
This books talks about recognizing personal accountability in all areas of your life...personally and professionally.

Favorite Quotes:

pg. 23

"How can I do my job better today?"
"What can I do to improve the situation?"
"How can I support others?"

Pg. 39

Most of us have heard the saying, "Creativity is thinking outside the box." There's a lot of truth in that, but to me true creativity is this:

Succeeding within the box.

pg. 46

Blame and "whodunit" questions solve nothing. They create fear, destroy creat
Jul 11, 2012 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a rather different book which focuses on the epidemic "blame" game which is rampant today. John Miller attempts to pursuade one to accept responsibility, be accountable and, above all, quit blaming.

He suggest we drop questions that begin with "who" and "why" and change them to "show" and "what". He also says to remove the "they" and "them" and replace with "I". So, when a "situation" arises, instead of trying to dodge blame or find an excuse, pose a question like "What can I do to help?"
Scott Freeman
Oct 17, 2010 Scott Freeman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
This book painted with such a broad brush that it failed to capture any of the nuance of interpersonal relationships and corporate responsibility. I understand the concept of personal accountability and not shifting blame. However, his major premise that we do not ask why or who but only what I can do misses the mark completely. There are times where it is imperative to look at the actions of others and how the team impacts and effects productivity. The author's desire to prop up his business an ...more
Caleb Sullivan
Dec 02, 2015 Caleb Sullivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Miller hits the nail right on the head with this book. He teaches personal accountability and how to have a simple but better outlook on how you should view life. He focuses on how the best ways to eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination in your day to day life. He focuses on the main things in life, like how to deal with problems and situations. When problems come up either at school, work or home, who do you blame? Most of the time you can prevent trouble and frustration by not ...more
Avolyn Fisher
Apr 06, 2016 Avolyn Fisher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This book was introduced to me from my employer who brought in John's daughter to introduce us to the QBQ! method.

First off - I have no issues with the message this book is trying to convey, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of personal accountability and I agree that often times we are too quick to blame in the workplace and don't take enough time looking internally for the solutions to our problems.

However, how does one prevent "silos" from happening if every individual is only lookin
Jan 21, 2009 Jeph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Successful People"
QBQ (The Question Behind the Question) is a short but powerful book about personal accountability and asking better, more responsible questions. QBQ and personal accountability revolves around stopping "the blame game" and changing people's minds (namely yourself) from asking questions like "Who dropped the ball?" or "Why didn't so-and-so do this?" to asking more responsible questions like "How can I help?" or "What can I do to make the company more productive"

The core strength of QBQ is that th
Vonelle Riley
This is a "quick read" self-help book that focuses on redirecting the questions that arise in the workplace, home and society to help the individual determine what they can personally do to best resolve the situation. It has the reader determine what the individual can do as opposed to putting the responsibility onto someone else. It is a very good book with a very good and thoughtful message.
Chris Munson
Picked up this book based on a recommendation by Dave Ramsey. The concept in QBQ is an important one. How to stop thinking like a victim. I think the process/technique that Miller lays out is very well thought out and will definitely impact the way I think about and react to negative people, events, situations, etc. However, I was hoping for a little more meat. The book was small to begin with and when you open it up it also has somewhat large print. It took me about 45 minutes to read the entir ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Reepacheep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must_read-nf
A very quick read, I heard about this on Dave Ramsey's radio show. This book is on his list of "must reads" for new employees at his company. While reading it, I realized I had read this before, years ago. How fitting, since the final "chapter" (each chapter is one or two pages long) says "repetition is the motor of learning, so read the book again."

Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living passively, and proactively become a part of your life again by finding answers in questions t
Douglas Lord
A rather simple tool that encourages personal accountability, the QBQ (question behind the question) drives Miller's organizational development firm of the same name. Rephrasing issues is the trick: begin with what or how, personalize with I, and focus on action. Thus, "When will they take care of the problem?" turns into "What can I do?" The advice here is admirable (e.g., stop procrastinating, change oneself) though hardly revelatory. The brief, breezy chapters crackle with energy, but, as the ...more
Nick Pannone
Apr 23, 2015 Nick Pannone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ultimate answer for self-accountability. Everyone should be required to read this book. Miller takes the reader through a series of lessons on how we can ask better questions in any job situation that we find ourselves. Sure, this is a motivational book. However, haven't we all worked with the guy who does nothing but complain? Haven't we listened to the co-worker describe how the company/organization is against her? Haven't we been in an organization that rewards minimum effort? Sure we hav ...more
Brad Brumley
May 24, 2014 Brad Brumley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is just horrible. It oversimplifies the issues of corporate accountability and ownership into trite antidotes. It's hard to believe it's so popular. If a harsh winter hit and there was no power this book would be the first to go in the fire place. The only redeeming quality this book has is hopefully it will encourage aspiring writers to take the plunge and write their own book. If this ass clown can write a book so can you.
Jasen Hatten
This book has really shaped my thinking and has actually affected how I make decisions. I have on several occasions since reading this book taken more ownership of decisions made whether the outcome was good or bad.

I am not the type of person that takes initiative quickly or naturally but I have been improving in this area as a result of reading this book.

I desire to be a better leader each and every day, and I will definitely keep referring back to this book for advice!
I read this because Dave Ramsey mentioned it on his radio show. It’s a slim volume packed with realistic wisdom on taking responsibility and making things happen.

The QBQ has three parts - your question begins with “What” or “How”, contains “I” and focuses on action. It is the opposite of blaming, shaming and energy sucking “Why” questions.

I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to those looking for a quick thought provoking business read.

Apr 12, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a quick read. It presents information in a straightforward and simple way. It's a great book to read for personal development; it's all about how to change your attitude and understanding the "question behind the question". My favorite chapter is The Risk of Doing Nothing, so I would read that chapter twice! As I looked over my notes (since I read this a few months ago), I reread the following quote that has been a challenge for me to implement and something I need to work on: "We a ...more
Katharine Grubb
Feb 09, 2010 Katharine Grubb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personalgrowth
Great motivational book for the workplace, school or any community group you may be involved in. It's short chapters are written as if you're at a motivational talk- but that's okay!

Loved the stories and examples of people practicing personal accountability. Many of these books have such a corporate edge to them. This can be read and applied by people in nearly any industry.
Sep 09, 2015 K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this for work. Not impressed. Personal accountability is important, yes. This book just read like a branding and marketing of ideas and concepts that are in lots of other books.

Some of it a bit too corporate and (this is an example from the book for teachers): "You feel overworked and underpaid? Well...what can you do to reignite your passion for teaching?"

Aug 16, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was required reading for my new job. Before opening the cover, I figured it was just another corporate motivational book. But the concept behind QBQ really does work! It was an eye opener to all the negativity we see around us. I've always tried to be accountable for my own actions. But this takes it a step further. I'm looking forward to reading it again!
Jun 15, 2014 Austin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
QBQ! is a little gem. While it is a quick read, it packs a punch.

Making better decisions in the moment by asking better questions.

That is the main theme behind QBQ. What it got me to realize was how often I have been playing the victim card. I often think my woes are out of my control, or that someone else should change because what they're doing is hindering me from my potential. It's a real problem. And asking the right question can REALLY help.

Right after I started reading this book, I got
Ellie C
Sep 11, 2014 Ellie C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This book has some good ideas, particularly around reframing issues to motivate productive dialogue and action. But the examples used are problemstic, including one where he lauds an employee at Home Depot for paying for a customer's purchase out of pocket because the customer was in a rush and only had big bills. It was a nice thing to do, but placing the onus on a low-paid worker to step up and bow down to the customer just reeks of corporate know-how to me. There are also a lot of instances i ...more
Rick Reno
May 23, 2016 Rick Reno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
QBQ is a quick and easy read, with a really simple message and profound implications to any organization trying to get anything done (isn't that true of most organizations?).

I read it several years ago; created a training presentation for everyone in our organization; and still refer to its concepts almost daily.

This year we are experiencing a new wave of change, and in trying to proactively help the team through it, QBQ was the first place I looked. We're doing at again this year and it's work
Sep 02, 2016 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book to read as part of my on-boarding for my new job. Very quick read, and I like how the author uses anecdotes to make simple but effective points about the importance of personal accountability. Basically, the point is that if you change the questions your ask yourself to avoid victim thinking, procrastinating, and finger pointing, you can make better choices that will increase your overall success and happiness. I think for a lot of people who were raised to adhere to a Chri ...more
Ahmed Wasef
Oct 03, 2012 Ahmed Wasef rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Great motivational book for the workplace, school or any community group you may be involved in. It's short chapters are written as if you're at a motivational talk- but that's okay!
Catherine Gillespie
It will only take you 20 minutes to read QBQ (seriously, some of the “chapters” are a paragraph long), which is really 15 minutes longer than you need to absorb the core concept:

Take personal responsibility rather than shifting blame by cutting out “Why” “Who” and “When” questions and replacing them with “How” and “What” questions.

But wait! That flies in the face of everything we know about journalism and book reports! It’s ok, there is a little bit more to it.

{Read my full review here}
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“There’s not a chance we’ll reach our full potential until we stop blaming each other and start practicing personal accountability.” 61 likes
“Ownership: 'A commitment of the head, heart, and hands to fix the problem and never again affix the blame.” 11 likes
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